Understanding Common Drinking Water Sample Results

stainless faucet

As part of the inspection period, buyers commonly elect to test the drinking water of their potential future home. The State of Michigan has guidance in understanding common drinking water sample results.

  • Use a clean, indoor faucet
  • Try to avoid threaded taps, leaky or swing-type faucets
  • Do not use a dirty or contaminated tap
  • Do not sample through a hose or treatment device
  • Always sample the cold water
  • Allow the water to run in a steady stream at least 5 minutes before collecting the sample or until the pump runs
  • Do not set the bottle cap down
  • Do not touch the inside of the cap or bottle
  • Do not allow the cap or bottle to touch the faucet
  • Do not rinse the bottle
  • Maintain a steady low-flow stream
  • Fill the container to the fill line. Do not overfill
  • Seal the container as soon as it is filled
  • Enclose submission slip and proper payment with sample
  • Send/transport water samples to the lab on the same day of collection and early in the week
  • The laboratory analyzes eight commonly requested parameters in a routine procedure. Water sample results will be reported in milligrams per liter.

Sample kits can be obtained at local health departments.

From the Health Department of Northwest Michigan:

“The Health Department has test kits available for many types of water sampling; including the two most common: Bacteriological and Partial Chemical. Stop by any of our offices to pick up one or more of the following test kits.”

From the State of Michigan: Unless your water well is properly designed, constructed, and maintained, a test result conforming to state standards may give you a false sense of security. A defective well can produce intermittent satisfactory bacteriological tests, but its continued safety cannot be assured.

While coliform bacteria and partial chemical testing are good screening tools, they do not detect petroleum products, industrial solvents, heavy metals, herbicides, and pesticides. More complex and expensive testing may be appropriate for your site. Your local health department can assist you in deciding what type of testing is needed.

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